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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Christmas Traditions in the USA Part 2

With its numerous cultures, the USA has a huge number of traditions which are celebrated at Christmas.

That most northerly state, Alaska, celebrates Christmas by carrying a star on a pole from door to door, followed by Herod’s Men, who try to steal the star. Children carry lanterns on poles whilst singing carols. People invite them in for supper. Doorways are often decorated with a pineapple, which is a symbol of hospitality.

Washington DC, the capital city, has an enormous Christmas tree which is always lit by the President. This spectacular tree is illuminated by pressing a button, which lights it up in all its splendor. Standing 40ft, this Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York in Pennsylvania in 1978. A ‘Pathway of Peace’ with 56 smaller decorated trees is also planted around the National Christmas Tree. These smaller trees represent the 50 states and the five territories. The President then sends a message of peace to the nation and to the world.

Another American tradition is the Capitol Christmas Tree, which began in 1964. The first one was a live 24 ft Douglas fir, and it was planted on the west land of the Capitol building. Sadly, it was damaged in a severe storm and died just 4 years later. A new one is harvested each year by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and in 2010 it was decorated by schoolchildren from Wyoming who made 5, 000 ornaments.

Of course, Florida has some modern traditions, including the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, which can be seen in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here, millions of twinkling lights sparkle in the Streets of America backlot area. Snow falls and music plays for the lights to ‘dance. ’ These wonderful lights originated in Little Rock, Arkansas, home of President Clinton. A businessman called Jennings Osborne decorated his home with 1000 red lights for his six year old daughter. Each year he added more and more lights, until there were over 3 million – and at this stage, the neighbours started to complain. Legal action was taken to prevent him decorating his house, and the whole show was moved to Orlando, where it now has a permanent home at Disney World. Millions of people visit Hollywood Studios each year to see this spectacular display of lights which now includes over 5 million lights.

If you are in Orlando, Florida anytime from November 10th until January 3rd then you must not miss this wonderful attraction. It now has ‘dancing lights’’ when, every 15 minutes the lights dance in time to a medley of Christmas classical music. Visiting the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is included in your regular park admission, so don’t miss it!
Rita Fraser

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Page added on: 10 January 2013
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